Is It Your Job to Pay for College?

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College tuition carries a hefty dose of sticker shock these days. Recent studies show students pay about $36,000 to attend a public in-state school for four years. And if you look into out-of-state tuition and private universities, you can expect to see that number climb to more than $100,000!

If that makes your heart sink, take a deep breath. You’re not alone. In one survey, 62% of parents admitted that paying for their child’s college would mean making significant financial sacrifices—like delaying retirement. Yikes. Not everyone can afford to send their kid to the college.

If you’re in that boat, hear this: Paying for your kid’s college isn’t your responsibility.

You’re off the hook. You clothed, fed, and kept a roof over your child’s head for 18 years. That’s a long time—and a lot of money. We all know parenting isn’t cheap. But even though you don’t owe it to your kid to pay for college . . . it can still make you feel pretty guilty, right?

Related: Learn How to Make the Best Plan for Your Money with Financial Peace University!

Money is a touchy subject, and parenting might be an even more emotional topic. Everyone has an opinion, and a lot of people believe their way is the right way. Combine those two conversations and you’re in for a roller coaster ride. We all want the best for our kids—but you do have to draw a line in the sand at some point. Just because John and Susan paid for their children’s college tuition doesn’t mean you have to feel pressured to do the same.

When you get too deep into comparison territory, you might be tempted to believe that you aren’t a “good” parent if you can’t pay for college. Let go of that lie before it takes root. The most loving parents in the world might not be able to foot that bill. That doesn’t mean they don’t love their children! It just means they aren’t at that stage in their financial journey.

College is great. And it’s become the norm for high school seniors to take that next step. But we have to keep in mind that college is a privilege, not a right. And while it would be nice to be able to pay for tuition and send your child to their dream school, it just might not be in the cards for your family right now.

The good news is that there are other ways to send your little ones to college—and they don’t involve you sacrificing your retirement or going into debt.

1. Look into community college.

A few states let you go to your local community college for free for two years. It doesn’t get much better than that! This is a great option for knocking out those basic lower-level courses. Once that’s done, your child can transfer to a four-year university for the last two years. After all, the school they graduate from is the one that ends up on the diploma. Plus, attending community college gives them two whole years to save up for tuition!

2. Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships!

There are tons of scholarships out there just waiting to be snatched up! In fact, there are hundreds of scholarships that go unclaimed every year. There’s no reason your child can’t earn a few scholarships to help pay their way through school. Explore national, local and academic scholarships. You never know what you might find.

3. Help your kid find a job.

It’s not uncommon for kids to work while they’re going to school. Actually, studies have shown that students who work part time have higher GPAs than students who don’t work. Don’t let your kid be afraid of a little elbow grease. The sooner they start working, the more money they can sock away in a savings account for school.

We all want to set our children up for success. But you don’t need to foot the bill for college if the money isn’t in the bank. And you definitely don’t need to take out any loans to make it happen. Thankfully, you have other options to help send your kids to school.

If they have to work a little to earn that diploma, that’s okay! Work builds character. And chances are they’ll be more grateful for their education if they played a part in making it happen.

parenting | @ChrisBrownOnAir